Mastodon bones unearthed by Michigan work crew go on display in museum

Mastodon bones unearthed by Michigan work crew go on display in museum

Last year, workmen accidentally found a juvenile mastodon’s bones in Michigan’s woodlands 13,000 years ago. The Grand Rapids Public Museum now displays them.

On Thursday, excited museum officials displayed some of the long-extinct pachyderm’s skeleton, which is still drying.

Mastodons were shorter, stockier, and had shorter, less curved tusks than woolly mammoths.

Kent County employees digging a drainage ditch 30 miles north of Grand Rapids found the Michigan skeleton. Museum CEO Dale Robertson called the discovery “amazing.”

“It’s probably an understatement,” he said at a news conference Thursday before officials visited the new exhibit.

Mastodon bones are common in the Midwest. “Which is really, really impressive,” said the museum’s science curator Cory Redman.“Anything over 20 is super exciting, so 75 to 80% is absolutely fantastic,” Redman added.

A half skull was recovered under glass alongside a big photo of the excavation site, but no tusks. The Clapp family donated the skeleton to the museum after finding it on their property last August.

The museum’s Saturday show “Ice Age: Michigan’s Frozen Secrets” will feature the “Clapp Family Mastodon,” a selection of the bones. The display includes Pleistocene animals. The museum included 63 fossils and molds so visitors could touch actual bones and teeth.

The Clapp Family Mastodon steals the show.

Redman said the child died between 10 and 20 years old, which radiocarbon dating places at 13,210 years ago.

“Being a juvenile makes this specimen unique and exciting. Young animal. Adults are usually found. Redman also mentioned completeness.